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Avoiding Windows Update disasters (warning...this is a long one!!)

Posted by Sweet Art on

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The conundrum of updating
If you have owned a Windows computer for more than five minutes, you know that Microsoft will shower you with updates to their Windows system software. Usually these updates are just an irritation because they take time to install, but once in a while they can cause your computer to take the proverbial dirt nap. Everything is working just fine, and then along comes Microsoft's "update Tuesday" and the next thing you know your stable computer takes on the personality of an unruly teenager. Make no mistake, these updates are very important to keep your computer from being vulnerable to viruses and malware attacks, but there is a strategy you should employ to avoid your productive day from grinding to a halt if the update goes south.

Play defense when updating
As we mentioned, updating is not optional if you want to avoid being a target of hackers and/or malware, but there is a smart way to approach it. Microsoft will tell you to just go ahead and set up your computer to automatically update without giving it another thought, and this appears to be the easiest way to go, right up to the point when you system gets hosed by your friends in Redmond, WA. What follows is our suggestion for a method to keep your system current but minimize the risk of problems. 

(NOTE: With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has effectively taken away the option to control when you receive updates for all but the Windows 10 Pro edition and above, so the information detailed here is largely moot for most users, although the instructions for creating Restore Points is still valid).

Disable automatic updating
First, set up your computer to notify you of available updates, but not automatically install them. Here's how:

Open Windows Update by doing the following:

-Click the Start button in the lower, left corner of your screen.

-In the search box, type Update and then in the list of results, click Windows Update.

-In the left pane, click Change Settings.

-Under Important updates, click Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them .

-Click OK (If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation) .

From now on, you will be notified when updates are available, but they won't download and install until you tell them to. This is important because before installing updates, you should set a Restore Point in your system. This will make a "mini-backup" of your computer's current configuration which will allow you to "rollback" your system to the point prior to installing the updates in the event something goes wrong. 

Configure your computer to create Restore Points
Before creating a Restore Point, you must make sure that your computer is configured to utilize them (usually most computers will be, but you should check this to make sure):

-Click the Start button in the lower, left corner of your screen.

-In the search box, type Restore Point and then in the list of results, click Create a restore point.

-Highlight your "C-Drive" which is the drive containing your system software (it may have a variety of names, but should always include the label C:).

-Click the Configure button, make sure the dot is highlighted in front of Turn on system protection, and click OK.

-Your computer is now configured to create Restore Points (this only needs to be done once and remains in effect unless you change it).

The safe way to update
Now that your computer is configured to use Restore Points, you can proceed with the update process. Here are the steps:

-Wait for a notification message on you computer that there are updates available (usually on a Tuesday night or Wednesday, two or more times per month).

-Click the Start button in the lower, left corner of your screen.

-In the search box, type Restore Point, and then, in the list of results, click Create a restore point.

-Make sure your "C-Drive" is highlighted and click Create.

-Type "Prior to Windows Update" or something similar and click Create. This will create a "snapshot" of your system before you install the updates (the date will be automatically appended so you can identify the latest Restore Point if you need to "rollback" your computer to the "before updates" state).

 You can proceed with the update now that you have created your "safety net".

Install your updates
To install the updates, follow these steps:

-Click the Start button in the lower, left corner of your screen.

-In the search box, type Windows Update, and then in the list of results, click Windows Update.

-In the Windows Update window, click on Install updates
Depending on how many updates there are, and how fast your internet is, you can either go have a cup of coffee, go to lunch or leave for the day and hope everything is okay when you get back in the morning. If you make sure to apply the updates regularly, it will minimize how many updates download at one time and help keep the process from taking forever to complete.

What if something goes wrong (or NOTHING goes right!)
Rarely, your updates may make a complete mess of things and you will rue the day you decided to install them. This can be a real pain, but if you were diligent about installing a Restore Point BEFORE updating, you always have the option of rolling back to your happy stable state should the update create problems. 

Unless the computer is absolutely unusable after an update, it may make sense to tough out minor problems and hope that Microsoft sorts out the problem and fixes it in a subsequent update. This frequently happens and later updates magically fix your problem (although Microsoft will not often own up to being the source of your torment even though they were).

If your update didn't go well and you can't live with your new "devil-child", you may need to utilize your Restore Point safety net by following these instructions:

- Back up your data...Back up your data...Back up your data!

-Close all programs that are running on the computer.

-Click the Start button in the lower, left corner of your screen.

-In the search box, type Restore Point, and then, in the list of results, click Create a restore point.

-Click System Restore and then click Next in the System Restore window.

-Highlight your Prior to Windows Updates DD/MM/YY Restore Point (pay attention to the appended date so you get the most recent one), click Next and follow the prompts. BE PATIENT...this may take a little time and then the computer will need to restart. Again, be patient and the computer should eventually restart into its pre-updated stable state. Do not get impatient and start clicking around because you think the computer is not doing anything, just let the magic happen.

Although this post may scare you away from keeping your computer updated, be aware that problems rarely occur and installing Microsoft's updates on a regular basis is definitely the safest course. Following the steps in this post are just a way of providing a safety net should Murphy's Law invade your life.

We are here to help
If you have any questions about this or another blog post, please contact us by email at www.sweetart.com/contact-us/ or by phone at 1-888-254-5445 x2.

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